The term empath carries with it a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. There are several inaccurate beliefs and preconceived notions that float around the internet and I can certainly understand why. Hearing another mention that they can feel the emotions of another, experience the energy of nature and understand the pain of an animal would most certainly be confusing for someone who does not experience life in the same way.
For that reason, I wanted to offer a few points to help clear up what it means to live as an empath:
1. We carry a lot.
While most individuals go through their days feeling their own emotions and occasionally being affected by those closest to them, empaths carry with them the emotions of almost everyone they meet throughout the day. Some empaths even carry the physical pains of those they encounter as well as the energies of animals, places and inanimate objects. These feelings that we absorb do not always come and go as quickly as the individual or objects, leaving us with a heavy load of emotional and physical energy to carry around day in and day out.
2. It’s not only in our heads.
I have heard many theories about why someone thinks they are empathic from mirror neurons to a strong ability to sympathize, and while these theories may be accurate to an extent, they do not come close to fully explaining an empath’s reality. The experience of walking into a room and picking up the energy of individuals from minutes, days, or decades ago, the feeling of standing beside one tree versus another, or the reality of feeling the direct pain of a loved one miles away without recognizing the source. None of these things are in our heads as they are things we cannot possibly know.
3. We can’t just turn it off.
Some days we want to, trust me. But it is not something that we can turn on and off at a whim. Even the most self-actualized empaths still do not have an “off” button, but instead know how to better protect themselves. It may seem strange to someone who doesn’t understand, but empaths must live with our abilities 24/7 regardless of whether or not we want to.
4. It’s not a choice.
Just as we cannot turn it off, we do not choose to have it on. No one knows why certain individuals have empathic abilities, much like we cannot know why someone has natural athletic abilities or master culinary skills. It is something we were born with and it is not something we just decided to be.
5. We need solitude.
It does not matter if an empath is an introvert or an extrovert, there is no surviving without necessary solitary time. It goes beyond the natural human need to recharge. Empaths need complete solitude, away from anything that may interfere with their emotional state, whether that is other people, animals or highly charged locations. If an empath cannot get away to recharge, the burn out is extreme and can bring them to tears.
6. We are not psychic.
While it is absolutely the case that an empath can also be clairvoyant, being an empath does not automatically mean that we have visions or can see the future. Empaths are clairsentients, which means “clear feeling” or “clear sensing.” Empaths feel and sense things and many are unsure of where these feelings are coming from. If someone tells you they are an empath, don’t expect them to be able to tell you the winning lottery numbers.
7. Clutter weighs us down.
Because many empaths are affected by the energy of objects around them, clutter or even an excess of physical objects can feel like a weight pushing down on us. Being in a room filled with objects is, in some instances, no different than entering a crowded location. Keeping a clean space and owning less stuff leads to clearer senses and overall improved well-being.
8. More sleep may be required.
Empaths experience a great deal every single day and therefore have a lot to process. This processing can wear us out quickly and require us to need more sleep than the average person. On top of the excessive exhaustion from basic daily life, our dream world carries with it a host of overstimulating adventures, vivid, colorful and lively. Don’t be surprised when we sleep for ten hours and are still yawning throughout the day.
Though the idea of experiencing the energies of others may be difficult to understand, empaths are simply human beings with unique abilities. It is my hope to normalize the term empath by helping others understand a little better what it means to be clairsentient. We are not crazy or dramatic. Every individual experiences life a little differently. Thank you for taking a glimpse into what it means to be an empath.